Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 Next page
overlaid and hidden by what was irrelevant. Of all
the facts which were presented to us we had to pick
just those which we deemed to be essential, and then
piece them together in their order, so as to
reconstruct this very remarkable chain of events. I
had already begun to suspect Joseph, from the fact
that you had intended to travel home with him that
night, and that therefore it was a likely enough thing
that he should call for you, knowing the Foreign
Office well, upon his way. When I heard that some one
had been so anxious to get into the bedroom, in which
no one but Joseph could have concealed anything--you
told us in your narrative how you had turned Joseph
out when you arrived with the doctor--my suspicions
all changed to certainties, especially as the attempt
was made on the first night upon which the nurse was
absent, showing that the intruder was well acquainted
with the ways of the house."
"How blind I have been!"
"The facts of the case, as far as I have worked them
out, are these: this Joseph Harrison entered the
office through the Charles Street door, and knowing
his way he walked straight into your room the instant
after you left it. Finding no one there he promptly
rang the bell, and at the instant that he did so his
eyes caught the paper upon the table. A glance showed
him that chance had put in his way a State document of
immense value, and in an instant he had thrust it into
his pocket and was gone. A few minutes elapsed, as
you remember, before the sleepy commissionnaire drew
your attention to the bell, and those were just enough
to give the thief time to make his escape.
"He made his way to Woking by the first train, and
having examined his booty and assured himself that it
really was of immense value, he had concealed it in
what he thought was a very safe place, with the
intention of taking it out again in a day or two, and
carrying it to the French embassy, or wherever he
thought that a long price was to be had. Then came
your sudden return. He, without a moment's warning,
was bundled out of his room, and from that time onward
there were always at least two of you there to prevent
him from regaining his treasure. The situation to him
must have been a maddening one. But at last he
thought he saw his chance. He tried to steal in, but
was baffled by your wakefulness. You remember that
you did not take your usual draught that night."
"I fancy that he had taken steps to make that draught
efficacious, and that he quite relied upon your being
unconscious. Of course, I understood that he would
repeat the attempt whenever it could be done with
safety. Your leaving the room gave him the chance he
wanted. I kept Miss Harrison in it all day so that he
might not anticipate us. Then, having given him the
idea that the coast was clear, I kept guard as I have
described. I already knew that the papers were
probably in the room, but I had no desire to rip up
all the planking and skirting in search of them. I
let him take them, therefore, from the hiding-place,
and so saved myself an infinity of trouble. Is there
any other point which I can make clear?"
"Why did he try the window on the first occasion," I
asked, "when he might have entered by the door?"
"In reaching the door he would have to pass seven
bedrooms. On the other hand, he could get out on to
the lawn with ease. Anything else?"
"You do not think," asked Phelps, "that he had any
murderous intention? The knife was only meant as a
"It may be so," answered Holmes, shrugging his
shoulders. "I can only say for certain that Mr.
Joseph Harrison is a gentleman to whose mercy I should
be extremely unwilling to trust."
The Final Problem
It is with a heavy heart that I take up my pen to
write these the last words in which I shall ever
record the singular gifts by which my friend Mr.
Sherlock Holmes was distinguished. In an incoherent
and, as I deeply feel, an entirely inadequate fashion,
I have endeavored to give some account of my strange
experiences in his company from the chance which first
brought us together at the period of the "Study in
Scarlet," up to the time of his interference in the
matter of the "Naval Treaty"--and interference which
had the unquestionable effect of preventing a serious
international complication. It was my intention to
have stopped there, and to have said nothing of that
event which has created a void in my life which the
lapse of two years has done little to fill. My hand
has been forced, however, by the recent letters in
which Colonel James Moriarty defends the memory of his
brother, and I have no choice but to lay the facts
before the public exactly as they occurred. I alone
know the absolute truth of the matter, and I am
satisfied that the time has come when on good purpose
is to be served by its suppression. As far as I know,
there have been only three accounts in the public
press: that in the Journal de Geneve on May 6th,
1891, the Reuter's despatch in the English papers on
May 7th, and finally the recent letter to which I have
alluded. Of these the first and second were extremely
condensed, while the last is, as I shall now sow, an
absolute perversion of the facts. It lies with me to
tell for the first time what really took place between
Professor Moriarty and Mr. Sherlock Holmes.
It may be remembered that after my marriage, and my
subsequent start in private practice, the very
intimate relations which had existed between Holmes
and myself became to some extent modified. He still
came to me from time to time when he desired a
companion in his investigation, but these occasions
grew more and more seldom, until I find that in the
year 1890 there were only three cases of which I
retain any record. During the winter of that year and
the early spring of 1891, I saw in the papers that he
had been engaged by the French government upon a
matter of supreme importance, and I received two notes
from Holmes, dated from Narbonne and from Nimes, from
which I gathered that his stay in France was likely to
be a long one. It was with some surprise, therefore,
that I saw him walk into my consulting-room upon the
evening of April 24th. It struck me that he was
looking even paler and thinner than usual.
"Yes, I have been using myself up rather too freely,"
he remarked, in answer to my look rather than to my
words; "I have been a little pressed of late. Have
you any objection to my closing your shutters?"
The only light in the room came from the lamp upon the
table at which I had been reading. Holmes edged his
way round the wall and flinging the shutters together,
he bolted them securely.
"You are afraid of something?" I asked.
"Well, I am."
"My dear Holmes, what do you mean?"
"I think that you know me well enough, Watson, to
understand that I am by no means a nervous man. At
the same time, it is stupidity rather than courage to
refuse to recognize danger when it is close upon you.
Might I trouble you for a match?" He drew in the
smoke of his cigarette as if the soothing influence
was grateful to him.
"I must apologize for calling so late," said he, "and
I must further beg you to be so unconventional as to
allow me to leave your house presently by scrambling
over your back garden wall."
"But what does it all mean?" I asked.
He held out his hand, and I saw in the light of the
lamp that two of his knuckles were burst and bleeding.
"It is not an airy nothing, you see," said he,
smiling. "On the contrary, it is solid enough for a
man to break his hand over. Is Mrs. Watson in?"
"She is away upon a visit."
"Indeed! You are alone?"
"Then it makes it the easier for me to propose that
you should come away with me for a week to the
"Oh, anywhere. It's all the same to me."
There was something very strange in all this. It was